Noel Gillespie

Hornets Notes: Walker, G League, Howard, Monk

With changes taking place throughout the organization, Kemba Walker understands he may not play another game for the Hornets, writes Steve Reed of The Associated Press. Walker, who became the leading scorer in franchise history this season, has one year left on his contract at $12MM and  could be moved this summer to bring Charlotte some much-needed cap relief.

“I have no idea,” he said when asked about his future with the Hornets. “That is out of my control. I am just going to focus on getting better as a player. That is really all you can do. I don’t know what they are going to do.”

Walker made his second All-Star appearance this season while averaging 22.1 points and 5.6 assists in 80 games. However, the Hornets are about $17MM over the salary cap for next season and have missed the playoffs the past two years.

There’s more tonight out of Charlotte:

  • The hiring of president and GM Mitch Kupchak and the firing of coach Steve Clifford made headlines this week, but the Hornets are going through a complete overhaul throughout the organization. Most of the training staff and analytics department were dismissed along with Clifford, tweets Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. Clifford’s assistants have been retained for now, but they will eventually be replaced (Twitter link).
  • The house cleaning extended to the G League affiliate, where head coach Noel Gillespie will not have his contract extended, the Hornets announced on their website. He compiled a 35-65 record in two seasons with the Greensboro Swarm.
  • Dwight Howard‘s track record under Clifford was an important factor in the decision to trade for him last summer, but Clifford’s departure doesn’t mean Howard will definitely be moved, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The biggest factor for Kupchak in a potential Howard deal, Bonnell observes, is what the team would have to accept in return to match Howard’s $23.8MM salary for next season. Howard put up his best numbers in several years, averaging 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
  • Rookie guard Malik Monk has a lot of work to do this offseason after being limited last summer by a sprained ankle, Bonnell adds in the same story. He states that Monk could be in line for a starting spot if the Hornets decide to trade Walker or Nicolas Batum.

And-Ones: Kaun, Varejao, Hornets, Barnes

Center Sasha Kaun has retired after playing one season with the Cavaliers, according to Gary Bedore of The 31-year-old Kaun played sparingly with Cleveland, appearing in 25 games. He was traded to the Sixers earlier this month, then waived. He played seven seasons with CSKA Moscow after completing his college career at Kansas. “I was very blessed and fortunate to play as long as I have,” he told the Journal-World from Colorado.

In other news around the league:

  • Warriors reserve center Anderson Varejao has returned to the U.S. from Brazil to undergo tests on his back, according to Brazil’s Olympic website. The report, which was later posted by the San Jose Mercury News, puts Varejao’s Olympic participation in doubt and clouds his availability for training camp. Varejao just re-signed with the Warriors last week after playing spot minutes the second half of last season and during the playoffs.
  • Noel Gillespie has been named head coach of the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornets’ new D-League affiliate, the team announced on its website. Gillespie spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach for the Nuggets. Before that, he was on the Suns’ staff for 10 seasons.
  • The Mavericks probably overpaid to obtain Harrison Barnes as a restricted free agent, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Eddie Sefko. Dallas hopes that Barnes blossoms now that he’ll be a bigger part of its offense than he was with the Warriors, but he’s been a middle-of-the-road player and there’s no guarantee he’ll get much better, Sefko adds. Barnes was lured away with a four-year, $94MM offer sheet that Golden State couldn’t match.
  • Yogi Ferrell’s minimum contract with the Nets has a $100K guarantee, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The former Indiana University point guard agreed to a one-year deal with Brooklyn last week after going undrafted.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Garnett, Gillespie

Russell Westbrook hasn’t offered any public comment since Kevin Durant elected to leave Oklahoma City and join the Warriors, notes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Westbrook also hasn’t offered any insight into his own situation, which includes free agency in the summer of 2017. That has led to speculation that the Thunder might consider trading him, rather than losing another important asset with nothing in return. Horne writes that he has been unable to contact Westbrook, either through his agent or the team. The only indications of Westbrook’s thinking are second-hand stories from his basketball camp in which he told a group of youngsters that he plans to stay in Oklahoma City.

There’s more news out of the Northwest Division:

  • There’s “nothing tangible” yet to reports linking the Celtics to Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, says ESPN’s Chris Broussard (video link). It’s worth stressing that, while Westbrook, Blake Griffin, and the Celtics have been the subjects of trade speculation at the Las Vegas Summer League, much of that speculation is coming from rival general managers and execs — not from sources within the Celtics or Thunder, or from specific player agents.
  • When the Thunder sent Serge Ibaka to the Magic for three players, Ersan Ilyasova was viewed as almost an afterthought, included in the deal to make the salaries work. However, as Horne writes for The Oklahoman, Ilyasova – whose salary is now guaranteed – could potentially come in and start for OKC.
  • Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) that he’s waiting to hear from Kevin Garnett on whether or not he’ll play next season. “The great ones deserve time,” Thibodeau said of Garnett, who has one year and $8MM left on his contract with Minnesota.
  • Nuggets assistant coach Noel Gillespie is close to a deal that would make him the head coach of the Hornets‘ new D-League affiliate, tweets The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Gillespie has been part of Denver’s staff for the past two seasons.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.